The Low Income Life & Being Broke

In 2009 I left home to live on my own. I wanted to go out there and start anew.  My start was as a university student in Amsterdam and everything that has happened since has changed me. I was not unprepared for a life with less money and more personal responsibility.

At home my parents did not always have the financial means wealthier families have. Regarding wealthier think modal income and above. My parents thankfully taught me valuable lessons about money. Money you have, you can spend and money spent is gone. When you have something good, keep it in as good a state as possible. Simple and pragmatic lessons that still help me today.

Sometimes when I read about how people with modal and higher than modal incomes have trouble in managing their budgets and I wonder why. In the end money is a finite resource based on monetary trust in the financial system that is in place in society. Money can run out for one’s personal budget.

There are a few things I have additionally learnt living with a low-income.

  1. Bills for food, shelter and heating have first priority.
  2. Saving money for financial reserves always helps.
  3. Avoid loans and credit when possible.
  4. Only buy what you need and enjoy.

One of the most unpleasant things that can happen is becoming broke. In my experience there are two kinds of broke.

  • Broke & no money: meaning being completely out of money.
  • Broke & safe: you have paid your bills and groceries yet you have no cash to spare.

I am usually in the “broke & safe” scenario because that is part of student life. Student books and college fees also add to cash diminishing expense posts. Sometimes a job is risk factor as you need your sleep and quiet time too.

The standard of living is per country is different and in one country being “broke & safe” can mean being wealthy. In the end though what matters is not in which income group you are and how much you can spend after bills and groceries.

Is what you have enough to survive and save a bit of money for later? If yes and you are happy with your life there is nothing to complain about. One issue remains though: how to define happiness in this context?

All you can hope for is that you have enough…